JNF/RAMAH program; thoughts from the New England delegation!


The JNF/RAMAH program has come to an end and all
our participants are back in the United States. Ramah New England was lucky to
send three wonderful ladies and a great senior staff member. Our delegation was
Mira Mendick, Hannah Simons and Dani Guitelman. They were led by our Rosh
Amitzim, Ariella Rosen. Throughout there trip the New England delegation wrote
a few thoughts to share on the blog. We already heard from Mira Mendick, but
here are a few thoughts from Hannah, Dani and Ariella. There are a few pictures
for your viewing as well.

Afternoon, January 8 by Hannah Simons

For the past 2 days we have had very different
experiences. Yesterday we went to Kibbutz Kramim in the Negev, home of Ramah
New England alumnus Jonathan Rulnick. This kibbutz holds a unique ideal of a
both secular and religious kibbutz. Secular and religious Jews live together
and work together as a community to create an environmentally sustainable
kibbutz. We helped them by building mud benches (formed by recycled tires and
trash products) and working in their vineyard. After a hard day's work we
traveled to Jerusalem.

This morning, before shopping in the Machaneh
Yehuda shuk to prepare for Shabbat, we volunteered in the Ein Kerem
neighborhood of Jerusalem by helping them build a stone terrace (to support
gardens in this historical but hilly community). We mainly stood in one large
assembly line moving heavy stones to be used to build the walls of the terrace.
This terrace will be beautiful and enhance the community. 

We are now about to welcome Shabbat in
Yerushalayim. I am sure we will learn songs and traditions from other Ramah
camps that we will bring back to Palmer. 


night, January 10 by Dani Guitelman

On Friday night we were given the choice of three
different synagogues in the Nachlaot neighborhood of Jerusalem. I chose a
synagogue called Maayanot, which had really spiritual orthodox services. It was
a nice change of pace and opened my eyes to a different way of Judaism as well
as a different image of the way people pray. 

(Ariella's note: On Friday night, our group showed
the rest of Jerusalem, or at least the rest of our hotel, what Ramah was really
about. After dinner, we enjoyed an oneg at which we ate the snacks we had
purchased at the shuk and sang songs and told stories. After being asked to
move to several different locations- due to space crunches at the hotel and how
loud we were- we ended up in the hotel parking lot for about an hour and a
half. We sang and danced, and each camp got a chance to share their own songs
and traditions. "Adamah Ve'shamayim" was a big hit! It definitely
made us proud to be part of the Ramah community, especially as representatives
of Ramah Palmer!)

Jerusalem on Shabbat is beautiful. On Saturday
during the day we got to walk around and see the city more. After services at
local synagogues and lunch at the hotel, we walked to the Fuchsberg Center for
Conservative Judaism for lunch and a discussion and then to the Yemin Moshe
neighborhood for peulat Shabbat. Walking around the city let me see Jerusalem
in a whole new way. Going to the Kotel for the end of Shabbat was one of the
most powerful experiences I have ever had. I do wish that the Kotel was not so
dominated by a non-egalitarian tradition though. 

We had a free night on Saturday night to enjoy
Jerusalem and connect with friends in the area. 

On Sunday we went to Tel Aviv. After a short tour
of Yafo (Jaffa) and some free time in Tel Aviv, we went to volunteer with the
Jaffa Institute (which serves the needs of poor and hungry children in the city
of Yafo) . The Jaffa project was a very interesting experience. The kids,
though diverse (both Jewish and Arab), worked and played very well together,
putting aside their differences. We played soccer with them and taught them
some songs in English, like "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes." We
then went to their Food Distribution Center to pack the boxes that the families
get twice a week. I wish we had been able to pack more boxes because we worked
so quickly and could have helped more children. I felt like today was one of
the most important days with the most powerful community service we did all

(Ariella's note: We also all bought T-shirts from
the Jaffa Institute which you will definitely see us wearing at camp. For the
cost of a T-shirt (50 shekel or $15), we paid for a child to eat for a week. We
were all struck by this fact, and spent some time discussing how often we spent
$15 or more on a single meal and how we should pay more attention to how we
spend our money.)

reflections, Wednesday, January 13 back in the USA: 

This week was truly incredible. We were able to
help a lot of people in many different ways. Through the many JNF projects we
worked on, we learned about environmentalism, impoverished communities,
immigrants, and other issues that Israel is facing and working to fix. The
projects themselves were incredible and we felt great being able to serve the
communities, but what made this trip as special as it was was the fact that
every one of us went to Camp Ramah. The ruach, knowledge, and care that went into
everything we did, from tefillot in the morning, to volunteering during the
day, to our reflection peulot at night was truly inspiring. I was so proud to
be a part of this group. The Palmer delegation can't wait to share what we
learned this week with all of you at camp this summer!

 On another note, here are the Palmer sightings in
l: Rivka Zangen (Tzevet Teva and Solelim), Yair Gross (Tzevet Amitzim),
Leah Collier (Agam), Amira Laufer (Niv 07), Yankale Berkowitz (Shoafim and

Here are a few pictures:

Palmer delegation at Nachal Beersheva, a JNF project to "green" the area and make a beautiful park for families in the Negel desert to enjoy


At the playground in Sderot that we raised money for…


Palmer delegation at Ben Gurion's grave overlooking the Negev. 


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